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Getting SMART with your goals

It's July now, which means we are half way through the year.  No better time to stop and review your goals and aims from the start of the year...

It's easy to make resolutions on January 1st because that is what's expected of us.  What's also pretty much expected, is that we'll probably have ditched most, if not all, of those goals before the first week of January has finished.  If you have managed to continue thus far with your goals for 2018, then now really is the time to stop and take stock of how far you have come.

Often we berate ourselves for not smashing our targets and goals within a relatively unrealistic time period - be honest, how many of you have spent the week eating healthily and going to the gym and then expected to be a dress size smaller by Friday night...only to discover you've not dropped a single pound, and subsequently given up?  Yep, me too!  Let's face it, that's just not realistic and completely screws with your motivation to continue in the long term.

It's far better to break your target up into bite-sized chunks that are much more manageable and realistic,and also allow for a little wiggle room, i.e. maybe you have a week's holiday booked or you end up getting sick.  You need to be able to find space in any plan to allow for the curve balls that life just loves to chuck our way.

Instead of just setting yourself an ambiguous goal, like 'I want to lose weight', set yourself a SMART goal.  If you haven't come across these before, it stands for:

Specific - what specifically, do you want to achieve.
Measurable - can you measure your progress in a meaningful way?
Achievable - is this goal realistic?
Relevant - does the goal really resonate with you?
Timely - what period of time will you dedicate to this goal?

So, to go back to the losing weight goal, a more SMART goal would look something like this:

Lose 1-2lbs every week by making healthy eating switches and adding in more minutes of daily exercise in order to reach target weight in the next three months in time for my birthday party.  

This goal could be refined even further, but basically, it works as a SMART goal.  The weekly weight loss is measurable and realistic, the focus on healthier eating and extra exercise is relevant, the focus on the party makes it resonate, and the time goals are both weekly and will be reviewed at the end of three months.  There is also 'wiggle room' factored in, as the weekly weight loss goal is between 1 and 2lbs.

If you're still struggling to meet the targets you set yourself at the start of the year, go back and really process whether or not they are SMART.  If they're not, see if you can repurpose them so that they are.  These goals can be applied to any aspect of your life and not just health and fitness. For example, are you aiming to work on a new skill, start up your own business, read more inspiring books, spend more time with your family?

Whatever the goal, it's up to you to make it something you can really stick to.  If it just doesn't resonate with you anymore, chose another goal that does.  There's also nothing to be ashamed of if your goals change.  Even in 6 months we can shift our focus or decide we want different things.  Don't beat yourself up about it, instead spend some time reviewing how far you have come this year and what you have achieved.  You could take 10-15 minutes today to just sit quietly and list everything you have accomplished this year on one side of a piece of paper and then list everything you still want to achieve on the other side.  Then, give yourself a big pat on the back for what you have achieved so far, before choosing 2 or 3 goals to make SMART and work on for the next week, month, 3 months, etc.

You may find that some of your goals have been achieved and then regressed in some ways.  One of my January goals was to run the marathon, which I did in April.  Now, I'm focussing on improving my 5K time ready for a team triathlon in September.  Instead of wanting to run miles and miles, now I want to run a much shorter distance a lot faster.  My running goal has altered dramatically and so has the way I measure and hold myself accountable.  This time, I'm running as part of a team so I want to ensure that I give it my best for me and my team mates.

Above all else, remember your goals are specific to you.  You don't have to tell the world about them...unless of course, sharing your goals with other people helps keep you motivated!


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